In these early stages of my journey to living a better life, I am setting small goals that I hope will be easily attainable while providing big payoffs over time.
One of these goals is to read 5 chapters of the Bible each day. This is enough to get me through the entire Bible in one year even if I skip the odd day. Also, I’ve done it before so know it is achievable with a little focus.
Last year my Bible reading went out the window. This was an effect of depression, not the cause, but it did not help. It took huge effort to read even a single chapter, an effort I often could not summon in the midst of depression. Now I am able to read more easily it is time to correct the imbalance.
Why read the Bible?
Firstly, because this is how I grow in my understanding of God and how I should live as one of His people.
Secondly, as I read and ponder the Scriptures, the teachings of Jesus and His Apostles take root in my heart. They then have a chance to affect and change my thoughts and attitudes. This is the sort of change that really makes a difference, more so than merely following the latest self-help fad.
Thirdly, reading the Bible washes away my own faulty thinking. By filling my mind with words, thoughts, poetry and stories that are from God I crowd out the mistaken ideas and beliefs I have about myself, others and life that otherwise cause me to make bad choices.
I’ve found two useful ways of reading to enable these three benefits to occur. One is to read slowly, thinking over what each sentence means, what it was written to achieve and how that applies to me. The other way is to read more quickly, covering a lot of ground but persisting until the ‘washing’ effect I mentioned has occurred and my thoughts are aligning themselves with what I’ve been reading.
Both approaches take time, but to read 5 chapters at a sedate pace only takes around 15 minutes which can easily fit into most daily schedules. The real battle is often the willpower to block out competing distractions and simply start.
To keep track of my progress I have a printed list of the books of the Bible and the chapters in each book. I simply cross off each chapter once I’ve read it. This allows me to read in whatever order I like while keeping track of progress. There are smart phone apps but I’ve found they don’t give the flexibility of pen on paper.
Here are some suitable checklists:
- A checklist that folds in three is available here
- biblechecklist.com have a printable (PDF) bookmark here
(I am only recommending the checklists from these websites, I cannot vouch for the other content of the sites)
For a good discussion of the benefits of reading the Bible see:
- 10 Benefits of Reading the Bible – Part 1 (by John Piper)
- 10 Benefits of Reading the Bible – Part 2 (by John Piper)